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Tools of the trade and productivity hacks

Like a lot of people, I am always on the lookout for productivity tools and hacks. This is an old post, but I love the idea of getting rid of voicemail (I hate checking it) and of 3×5 cards where you focus yourself on 3-5 important tasks each day.

So today I thought I would share some of the tools, apps, and hacks that I use on a regular basis. Then if you feel like it, you can share your tools and approaches in the comments so we come up with a good running list.

I’ll start with software and then move to actions.

Google Drive: I have my Google Drive mapped to my computer and I store everything on it. That way I can access any file I need from my phone while I’m away from my desk. There’s also Dropbox and Box for moving around large files.

Evernote: I am trying to go paperless. Right now I photo scan almost all of my documents into Evernote (including business cards). I really should invest in an actual scanner. If you know of a good one for this purpose, let me know. Again, the advantage of this approach is that all of my documents are accessible on mobile.

Asana: I have used Asana off and on over the years for managing team projects. (We used it for Dirt.) Everyone needs to be committed to it though. And we all know how sticky email is for communication/assigning tasks. But if you can get in the habit of listing and assigning action items during or right after meetings, I think it can be a great way to keep projects moving. 

Slack: I have a tendency to always want to keep everyone on a team informed about what is going on. That way nobody is left out and people can speak up if they see something concerning. I got in the habit of this when I was at Morguard. That was the way we did things in development and I think it’s a sound approach. Today, we have Slack to help do that.

Buffer: I use Buffer to schedule and share all of my social posts. Some people swear by Hootsuite, but I love the simplicity of Buffer. It couldn’t be easier to add posts to your queues across multiple platforms.

Pocket: This is my save-it-and-read-it-later tool. I use Pocket to keep a running list of articles and links I find interesting so that when I sit down every morning to write this blog, I have material to refer to.

Now let’s switch gears to actions…

Notifications Off: I have all notifications off on my phone during the day (except for phone calls). The temptation to check my phone when it goes off is too great, so I keep it completely silent. It doesn’t even vibrate. Going even further, I also have notifications off for most non-essential apps.

Directing Messages: I am trying to keep messages directed to Twitter, text, and email. That means I am generally terrible at responding to messages on Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on. But I’m okay with that. There are simply too many channels to stay on top of.

Routines: When I first started writing this daily blog, people would ask me why I don’t take the weekends off. But I actually think it would be harder to stay disciplined if I did that. By doing it every day it has become a non-negotiable routine. I try to think of productivity in terms of regular actions.

Today’s Tasks: I am starting to do this more and more. It’s easy to end up with an overwhelmingly long list of things to do. So it can be incredibly valuable to ask yourself: What are the most important things for me to complete today? Then go and do those things.

Gym: For me, lifting weights is one of the best ways to stay productive. It’s a natural energy booster and I find that it gives me a mental clarity that I just don’t get from anything else. I am not the same person when I fall behind in my workouts.

What do you use and do to get shit done?

1 Comment so far

  1. Matt

    Have there been any updates to this post? Would be great, especially as we’re all working from home!


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